by Henry T. Vriesen
The tabernacle, the house of God, thereafter became the center of worship for Israel. Before this time, altars had been built and offerings had been burnt on them by believers; at various places the Lord had been worshipped. Now Moses advised the people to come to the tabernacle with their offerings. The men appointed for the services and sacrifices were called priests. Aaron, the brother of Moses, was chosen as high priest. He had to direct the worship. His sons assisted him as priests. Other helpers were the Levites, men from the tribe of Levi.
One day the people were called together to the door of the tabernacle, and there Aaron and his sons were anointed with oil, and they put on priestly robes. Aaron offered a lamb on the altar of burnt offering. God sent the fire to consume the sacrifice. From that time on daily sacrifices were offered—in the morning and in the evening. Every morning at sunrise the priests raked the fire on the great altar and supplied fresh wood, so it was kept burning.
Inside the Holy Place, as we have heard, was the altar of incense. Every morning and every evening a priest took some burning coals from the great altar to light the fire on the ‘altar of incense’. The fire was carried in a censer (a bowl with chains). Sweet perfumes, called incense, were burnt on this altar. Besides the morning and evening sacrifices, mentioned before, people brought animals for thank and sin offerings, and the priests assisted them in preparing them for the altar.
Every day the priests went into the Holy Place to service the seven lamps on the golden candlestick They filled the lamp bowls with fresh oil, to keep them burning. Another duty of the priests was to provide the shewbread for the golden table in the Holy Place. The twelve loaves of unleavened bread (one loaf for every tribe) had to be renewed every sabbath morning. Only the priests were permitted to eat this bread. Aaron the high priest wore a breastplate with precious stones on his chest. On his head he had a peculiar cover, called ‘a miter’. Only he had the privilege to enter the Holy of Holies but once in each year. Only the priests were permitted to step into the Holy Place.
One day a sad event took place. Nadab and Abihu, two of the priests, were preparing to light the fire on the altar in the Holy Place. Instead of taking burning coals from the altar of burnt offering, as God had commanded, they took some common fire, to burn the incense on the golden altar. Suddenly, while they stood before the altar, they fell down dead. It was God’s punishment for their disobedience. And Moses said to Aaron, Eleazar and Ithamar his sons, “Let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which the Lord hath kindled.”For further information on this resource, click here.